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Niger31 October 2007

Newspaper editor charged with criminal association, transferred to Agadez prison

Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, the editor of the Aïr Info, a privately-owned fortnightly based in the northern city of Agadez, was charged on 29 October with “criminal association” and was placed in pre-trial detention in Agadez prison, where he is being held with common criminals. No date has been set for a trial as the case is still being investigated, his lawyer said.

“Bringing this kind of charge against a professional newspaper editor is an insult to journalism,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Contacting all possible sources in order to report what is going on does not constitute criminal association. It is part of the normal and legitimate work of the press.”

Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for the release of Diallo, his reporter Daouda Yacouba, and Niamey-based journalist Moussa Kaka.

10.10.07 : Editor of sole newspaper in Agadez arrested at airport and accused of being the RFI correspondent

Reporters Without Borders today called for the immediate release of Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, managing editor of privately-owned bi-monthly Aïr Info, published in Agadez, northern Niger, who was arrested yesterday at Niamey airport as he prepared to board a plane for France.

Niger border police seized Manzo Diallo as he was going through the departure area for a late night Air France flight to Paris, bundled him into a taxi and drove him to the headquarters of the Judicial Police (PJ).

He was interrogated for much of the night, before being moved to the police station during the morning, where he is still being held. Local journalists who managed to visit him said he is being accused of being “the correspondent for Radio France Internationale (RFI) in Agadez”.

“The intolerance of the Niger government has reached a critical state with this irrational arrest,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “Not only is it not a crime to be the correspondent for RFI, but on top of this Ibrahim Manzo Diallo does not work for that radio. This government, which seems to have lost any sense of proportion and justice, must now release him, along with Moussa Kaka,” it added

Aïr-Info was closed for three months in June for having allegedly “incited violence” in the conflict in the region between the army and the Touareg rebels of the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ). In July, Manzo Diallo was arrested by police in Agadez after launching a new weekly.

Aïr-Info, founded by this former professor of literature in 2002, has a circulation of about 1,500 and is the only newspaper published in the province.

Moussa Kaka, director of privately-owned Radio Saraouniya, correspondent in Niger for RFI and Reporters Without Borders, was arrested on 20 September. He was charged with “collusion in a plot against state authority” for having had regular contact with rebels of the MNJ.

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